August 1, 1981 – Elephants In The Room
August 1, 1981 – a day of looming disruption and discontent. With conclusion of an all-nighter on Capitol Hill, House and Senate conferees finally agreed on a Tax Bill. Over 17 hours of negotiations, the House/Senate Conference Committee finally completed work on the Tax Cut Bill. The $750 Billion bill was finally agreed on, although the sticking point was keeping the Oil Depletion allowance high. But fearing a filibuster, Republicans settled on a shrinking allowance to 15% in 1984. Overall, oil related provisions in the Tax Cut bill will cost the Treasury $11.4 Billion. The Senate was scheduled to vote on final passage later on this day, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Robert Dole felt there was a good chance the bill was going to pass. The other part of the bill, which had already passed, was expected to get President Reagan’s signature, was the largest tax cut in history, calling for over $35 billion in budget cuts. The House, before approving the budget reconciliation measure voted to continue the minimum Social Security program, which was eliminated in the Budget bill. The Senate voted to defer action until the Fall.
The looming disruption came in the form of the Air Traffic Controllers and the Transportation Department, who were working under threat of a strike if the deadline wasn’t met by midnight. The Chief Federal mediators said the prospects for settling the dispute with Air Traffic Controllers before midnight did not look good. The head of the Controllers Union stormed out of the previous days meeting with government officials refusing to extend the deadline. Facing that time pressure. the two sides were slated to meet this day and most likely through the weekend, but Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis said the Union’s demands at present were “unfair”. Federal Officials, who offered a $40 million wage and benefits package previously, claimed the Union had upped the ante to $600 million at minimum. Transportation Department officials worked through the night to refine that cost estimate. They had said the Controllers, who would be violating Federal law if they struck, face the possibility of being fired and prosecuted if they carried out their threat.
And The Washington Post reported President Reagan was prepared to recommend deployment of the MX Missile on Air Cargo planes, rather than using the controversial land-based system of multiple silos. Other sources insisted that no final decision had been reached on the issue.
Contentious, uncertain and potentially dangerous times – all that, and a lot more as described on The CBS World News Roundup for this Saturday, August 1, 1981.